RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — When you think of Black Hills tourism, you probably think of summer, when people from all over hit the road to see all of our state’s great places.
However, there is a lot to do and see when taking a vacation during the colder months.
Whether it’s events like Lakota Nation Invitational, the Stock Show, hitting the slopes at Terry Peak, or just taking a drive through the snow-covered landscape, there’s a lot to experience in the Black Hills this time of year.
“It is kind of a little secret in a way, but the experience in the Black Hills and Rapid City in the wintertime is a whole new adventure,” Stacie Granum, Visit Rapid City, said.
Even Mount Rushmore is a sight to see in the snow.
“And you can never forget about the great arts and culture scene that we have here. The Journey Museum and Learning Center, the Dahl Fine Arts Center,” Granum said.
Normally this time of year, visitor numbers in the area see a downturn. But Stacie Granum with Visit Rapid City says winter traffic has been on the rise since 2019.
“Just October through December we saw over 350,000 unique visitors. That’s just Rapid City, not even talking about the whole region so it’s pretty huge and I think it has a great impact on this community in so many different ways. And January is off to a great start too,” Granum said.
Wind Cave National Park is always busy during the summer. But Spokesperson, Tom Farrell, says the winter months are a great time to stop by.
“It’s a great time to visit the cave. You don’t have huge visitation. It’s not really booked like it is during the summer. You might actually end up getting a private tour,” Tom Farrell, Wind Cave Spokesperson, said.
Whether it’s the middle of July or late December, the cave remains at 54 degrees.
“Even just driving along the surface and tracking down the bison are, watching prairie dogs scampering about. It’s just a nice sunny afternoon drive. Come out and see the surface and if you want come out and see the cave,” Farrell said.
Each year, the Terry Peak Ski Resort sees thousands of visitors.
“In the summer, we always used to come up to the Black Hills and we kind of quit that the last couple years. So we’ve never really been up here in the winter and we figured it is a good opportunity to start the trend again,” Ben Lauck, visitor, said.
“We are having a wonderful season, we’ve had a lot of snow so far. Our natural snowfall is approaching 130 inches for the season, which is awesome this time of the year,” Linda Derosier, Terry Peak Ski Resort, said.
Not only does Terry Peak offer skiing and snowboarding, but it’s also a place to stay, a place to eat, and a place for everyone to get together and have fun.
“Since we do serve the 5-state-region, people will come out and spend their winter vacations here skiing, taking some snowmobiling, possibly cross country. There is a lot of stuff to do out here in the Black Hills during wintertime. It’s a great way to get out to enjoy the fresh air and just the great outdoors,” Derosier said.
While visitors from out of state are always welcome, winter in the Black Hills is a great time for locals to get out and see the area too.
“Our base gears come from the local communities, of course. We’ve got our season pass holders, most of them from this region or vicinity. So they come out during the week and the weekends,” Derosier said.
“If you think about it, gosh, you can have a wonderful weekend getaway but for locals, I don’t think we realize all there is to do right here in Rapid and the Black Hills,” Granum said.
January 31st is National Plan Your Vacation Day. It is a day that encourages people to plan their time off at the beginning of the year. Even if it’s in your backyard, across the state.. or across the country.